‘Damage’ by Josephine Hart

Do you believe in love at first sight? Or simply lust at first sight? You have to accept either as a possibility to become completely absorbed in Damage by Josephine Hart.

A quick read of the jacket blurb and a couple of choice quotes from the book and you know that this is car-crash reading – horrible, uncomfortable but you keep turning the pages nonetheless. For example, in the very first chapter –

“But I did not die in my fiftieth year. There are few who know me now who do not regard that as a tragedy.”

It’s the story of Stephen Fleming, a man who seemingly has everything – wealth, a beautiful wife (Ingrid), two children (Martyn and Sally), and a prestigious political career in Parliament.

“Marriage is not the gamble we sometimes say it is. Over its course we have some control. Our choice of spouse is mostly intelligent, as well as romantic…. No. Children are the great gamble. From the moment they are born, our helplessness increases. Instead of being ours to mould and shape after our best knowledge and endeavor, they are themselves. From their birth they are the centre of our lives, and the dangerous edge of existence.”

So with that quote in mind, you might be interested to know what happens next. Stephen shags his son’s fiancée, Anna Barton.  In fact, they begin an all-consuming affair. Continue reading